Before we left the US for Canada, we participated in some war protests. In 2003, Pam and I marched, along with thousands of other Bostonians, against the Iraq war. We had been against the war from day 1, and were particularly upset that our niece (who we had recommended the US Military as a great place to get free health care and college funding, back in the saner Clinton era) was actually stationed in Kirkuk. So one overcast day in March, we marched from Boston Common to somewhere else in the city (I can’t remember where). The march was peaceful, and there were no arrests.
It appears that this past week, according to the Independent Media Center of Winnipeg:
In one of his most chilling moves to date against his own citizens, the American War Leader has issued a sweeping order this week outlawing all forms of protest against the Iraq war. President Bush enacted into US law an ‘Executive Order’ on July 17th titled “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq”, and which says:
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004.”
While IMC-Winnipeg does sound a little shrill, it is arguable that political protests like the ones that we participated in are now against the law, and we (along with everybody else) would now be rounded up and thrown in jail. According to the rules of this law we would be forbidden from talking about it with anyone, including lawyers or the press (who might very well paint us as ‘people who hate America’ if they were from Fox)
Lately I’ve seen a lot of speculation online that the US is just one ‘incident’ away from Martial Law, suggesting that the Bush administration is putting in place the tools to actually avoid the next election and stay in power due to a ‘National Emergency’. Whether that incident was real or actually a staged event has also been mentioned. I would have dismissed this as alarmist imaginations run wild, but they keep cropping up.
I can’t help thinking that if there were such an event, with public protests being illegal (or cast as ‘undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq’), the possibility of this definition being expanded to include: “and interfering with the US government’s attempts to restore order” or something similar is not inconceivable.